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Art and Images in Psychiatry
March 2006

The Plague of Ashdod

Author Affiliations


Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63(3):244-245. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.3.244

[W]hat was most terrible in the whole affliction was the despair when someone realized he was sick, for immediately forming the judgment that there was no hope, they tended much more to give themselves up instead of holding out.

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War1(p51)

The emergence of plague is as frightening a prospect now as it has been throughout recorded history. From its earliest description in Athens in the 5th century BC,1 an understanding of the psychological factors involved has been considered critical. How can hope be sustained during a pandemic? The cause of the pandemic and actions taken to prevent its spread, medical treatment, personal support, painting, literature, and religion may all play a role.